Rally and vigils for marriage equality in S.F. this week

A CA Supreme Court ruling in 2009 presented a setback for marriage equality and drew thousands into the streets in SF.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hold back-to-back hearings this week as justices consider Prop 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), setting the stage for historic discussions concerning LGBT civil rights. Tonight, hundreds are expected to gather at Castro and Market streets for a 6:30 p.m. rally, followed by a march to City Hall. Prop 8, a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, passed in California with 52 percent of the vote in November of 2008. Challenges to the discriminatory law have been working through the court system ever since.

LGBT activists also plan to mark Tuesday and Wednesday evenings with vigils outside the California Supreme Court building. The vigils will coincide with about 150 events scheduled throughout the country, organized to demonstrate support for marriage equality.

Shortly after longtime gay rights activists Cleve Jones and David Mixner put out the call to local activists that the Supreme Court would be hearing arguments on Prop 8 and DOMA, Patrick Connors started helping to organize the rally, march and vigils in tandem with activists Greg Chasin, Billy Bradford, Aaron Baldwin and others, Connors said. Over the past several weeks, they’ve been posting fliers, Tweeting to get the word out and urging support for marriage equality as the historic twin hearings get underway in D.C. 

“We’re cautiously optimistic that there will be hundreds of people in the Castro” for the Monday night rally, Connors told the Guardian. About 200 have also signalled interest in attending the vigils March 26 and 27.

San Francisco has been at the epicenter in the battle for marriage equality. Just after Prop 8 passed, it was immediately challenged in parallel court proceedings by same-sex couples and the city of San Francisco, with City Attorney Dennis Herrera leading the charge with support from other California municipalities.

Connors and his husband, Robert Dekoch, were initially married in February of 2004, but their marriage was invalidated after the California Supreme Court held that city officials lacked the authority to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Following a subsequent court victory that opened the gates for same-sex couples to be married in San Francisco City Hall once again, Connors and Dekoch returned and were re-married in August of 2008.

Although Prop. 8 passed the following November, banning same-sex marriage, “our marriage, along with 18,000 others, is recognized by the state of California,” Connors explained. Yet their marriage still isn't recognized at the federal level, so “there’s the potential of what could happen” during out-of-state travel, he said.

In May of 2009, Connors was arrested along with some 200 protesters who took to the streets following a California Supreme Court decision upholding Prop 8. “A whole bunch of us sat in the middle of Van Ness,” he recounted, “And blocked traffic for hours until the paddy wagons came.”    


as being a union of a man and a woman, which can only be two people. If marriage can exist between the same sex, then there is no longer any logical reason to restrict it to two people.

To do so is discriminatory against threesomes, foursomes and all polygamist affiliations.

Posted by anon on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 2:28 pm

...as a union of a man and a woman? It's not so defined in the states that allow same-sex marriage.

Again, Olson had the perfect answer for drawing a line between marriages between two people regardless of their sex on the one hand and polygamous marriages on the other. It's about status versus conduct.

You're right, though; prohibiting marriages of more than two is discriminatory. The government is allowed to discriminate in marriage if there's a good reason to do so. (How good depends on the identity of those being discriminated against.) However, there's no rational reason to do so when it comes to same-sex couples.

Posted by Hortencia on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 2:43 pm

and a woman. Maybe not always explicitly, but then it was never deemed likely that it would need to be.

I'm not saying that defintion should never change - only that those arguing for change should accept that it is a broadening of the defintion, and a loosening of the institution.

I'd be interested in hearing the argument that it is not in the public interest for threesomes to marry. If two people who can never procreate can marry, then why would it matter that three people who can procreate cannot?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 3:09 pm

The nature of a queer protected class would be much more constrained than women or people of color. There would be no need for affirmative action, for instance, just an elimination of and prohibition on de jure discrimination.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 1:50 pm

was in any event a very anomalous prohibition, because it was almost unique to the US, and there was no long-standing tradition of different races not being able to marry.

Moreover, it did not overturn the fundamental idea that marriage is between a man and a woman.

But gay marriage is a relatively new idea and it is only in the last few years that any nation has considered such a change. So it really does represent a massive change in the meaning and definition of an institution. It is less a legal question and more a question of what society is ready for.

SCOTUS should demur.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 1:58 pm

to reverse the California courts' rulings in favor of gay marriage.

By this device the case may be ditched, leaving the present degree of constitutional rights for gays in its incomplete state, but the DOMA case being heard during this court session may yet yield movement on a wider plane.

I completely agree with the whole of your middle paragraph and the dismal view with regard to beneficial SCOTUS action mentioned in the third*, but refering to this possible action as adding a "protected class of citizens" is not what gay marriage rights represent: ensuring the right to marry for gays represents the *abolishment* of a *discriminated* *against* *class* of people.

We should always seek out and abolish all such *special* *classes.*

*I also took a dismal view on the Mirkarimi hearing and vote by the BOS, but I was wrong on that.

Posted by lillipublicans on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 1:58 pm

existing laws and did not, by itself, change anything.

There are some real complications with extending federal benefits to same-sex couples, not least the massive potential for immigration fraud.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 2:13 pm

But isn't that a problem now? How would extending federal recognition of same-sex marriages make it worse, other than by a comparatively small number of cases?

Posted by Hortencia on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 3:01 pm

credibly engage in immigration fraud.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 3:06 pm

Your comment seems to suggest that the ratio will go up simply because the fraud would be done by same-sex "couples." Anyway, that's not a good reason to deny law-abiding Americans their civil rights.

Posted by Hortencia on Mar. 27, 2013 @ 7:41 pm

Actually, it did. For the first time, the federal government was forbidden from recognizing, with around federal 1,100 statutes and regulations affected, certain legal marriages performed in the states. That had never happened before, not with differing laws regarding race, age, or anything else.

Posted by Hortencia on Mar. 28, 2013 @ 6:53 am

"Something about that leaves me uneasy and seems to undermine voter initiatives, no?"

Voter-initiated laws that violate the Constitution should be undermined. Schwarzenegger and Brown both saw that. In other cases, unless after long and careful analysis, a law that's not objectionable constitutionally should be defended by the executive branch, no matter if it was passed by the legislature or by the voters.

Posted by Hortencia on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 1:59 pm

I think that Prop. 8 was unconstitutional, but that really has nothing to do with the issue of standing in this case. The Court could very well not get to the merits of the case to determine the constitutionality of the law that was passed

Posted by GuestD on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 2:33 pm

rulings when it can solve the question at issue more narrowly.

It is ultimately for elected assemblies to pass laws and define our institutions.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 2:39 pm

yes, it is ultimately for elected assemblies to pass laws and define our institutions, but only within the Constitutional framework. As I posted above, I think marriage is a fundamental right, and as such laws affecting it need to pass "strict scrutiny" under the Equal Protection clause. It doesn't matter how large a majority of voters supports something, if it doesn't pass this Constitutional muster, a court has an obligation to strike it down.

that said, i don't think this SC is going to deem marriage a fundamental right, and won't strike down gay marriage prohibitions on this basis. I think they are going to pull their punch and rule only in regards to CA and Prop. 8.

I'm having a hard time swallowing that the claimants in the case don't have standing, but will have to read up on the arguments made to the court today.

Posted by GuestD on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 2:51 pm

That's what got us into this mess in the first place.

Posted by Hortencia on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 3:08 pm

Nothing wrong with asking the voters. And in fact in most countries that have allowed gays to marry (Holland, UK, Canada) the voters were not asked. The elected officials just decided it.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 3:18 pm

The fact that same-sex couples can't get married in California is a big mess for same-sex couples.

I disagree about there being nothing wrong with asking voters, obviously. I don't think civil rights, guaranteed by the Constitution, should be up for a vote.

Posted by Hortencia on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 3:30 pm

what they want to do.

That isn't a "mess". It's called "life", and life is inherently messy.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 3:52 pm

No, I'm calling a situation in which people are being unconstitutionally discriminated against a "mess."

Posted by Hortencia on Mar. 28, 2013 @ 6:54 am